Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Sunday, January 02, 2005

Your UN Contribution at Work IV
Written by: Beck

What exactly is the UN qualified to do? Seriously.

Peace keeping? Hardly. UN peace keeping efforts in Yugoslavia and Rwanda knowingly and passively allowed genocide to take place. Peace keepers in the Congo haven't done a thing to keep the peace--the country is crawling with rebel groups who act with complete impunity--but they have managed to molest a bunch of under age girls. So scratch peace keeping off the list--the UN is patently unqualified to do that.

How about collective security? That was one of the primary stated purposes justifying the creation of the United Nations. All the nations of the world were going to band together to prevent despots from threatening the security of the rest of the world. I'd be very curious to learn what wars the UN has prevented. It is only American intervention and influence which keeps North Korea from invading the South; only American influence keeps China from snatching up Taiwan; only American influence prevents Pakistan and India from incinerating each other in a nuclear fire ball. The United Nations can and has done nothing about rogue states, lunatic dictators, international terrorism, nuclear proliferation, or any of the other security threats facing the civilized world. Don't just scratch collective security off the list, get some scissors, cut it off the list, and light it on fire for good measure.

Ah, but the UN is good at helping people right? Where would the world's less fortunate souls be without the United Nations? Answer: precisely where they are today. Actually, they'd most likely be slightly better off. Stick with me folks.

A lot has happened in the past few months to shine a bright and most unforgiving spotlight on the United Nations. To name a few, there has been a vote of no-confidence for Kofi Annan from the UN staff, internal sexual harassment cover-ups and scandals, increasing tales of genocide which occurred on Annan's watch, massive sexual abuse scandals in the Congo, and of course, the oil-for-food scandal. Now a natural disaster has occurred--the most destructive in terms of human life ever to occur during my life time--and the UN is failing there too. The tsunami represents an opportunity for the United Nations as great as the tragedy has been terrible. The UN has the chance to rise to the occasion and save lives and help people.

The bungling thus far has been extensive. Where to begin? Let's start with some general stupidity.

Jan Egeland, the UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator [was there ever a title that more loudly declared, "Behold! I am a bureaucrat?" --ed], got his head fairly bitten off in response to his criticism of Western nations' "stinginess" with regard to the tsunami disaster relief aid donations. The US government has now pledged $350 million along with massive air and naval support, and private donations from America have topped $200 million, nicely emphasizing the idiocy of his words. Not to be out done, the Japanese government has pledged up to $500 million in grant money. $500 million. And this clown felt the need to announce that Western nations are stingy?

But that's just one man's folly. What had the UN accomplished as of, oh, say December 30? Well let's let Mr. Egeland answer that question personally.
"We are doing very little at the moment," U.N. emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland acknowledged in New York. The United Nations estimates up to 5 million people need aid.
The best dirt (along with the link to that Egeland quote) comes from The Diplomad. I'm going to engage in a massive violation of blog etiquette and quote the entire (relatively brief) post. Added emphasis by me.
Well, we're heading into Day 7 of the Asian quake/tsunami crisis. And the UN relief effort? Nowhere to be seen except at some meetings and on CNN and BBC as talking heads. In this corner of the Far Abroad, it's Yanks and Aussies doing the hard, sweaty work of saving lives.

Check out this interview (on the UN's official website) with SecGen Annan and Under SecGen Egeland shows,
Mr. Egeland: Our main problems now are in northern Sumatra and Aceh.
<...> In Aceh, today 50 trucks of relief supplies are arriving. <...> Tomorrow, we will have eight full airplanes arriving. I discussed today with Washington whether we can draw on some assets on their side, after consultations with the Indonesian Government, to set up what we call an "air-freight handling centre" in Aceh.

Tomorrow, we will have to set up a camp for relief workers--90 of them--which is fully self-contained, with kitchen, food, lodging, everything, because they have nowhere to stay and we don't want them to be an additional burden on the people there.
I provided this to some USAID colleagues working in Indonesia and their heads nearly exploded. The first paragraph is quite simply a lie. The UN is taking credit for things that hard-working, street savvy USAID folks have done. It was USAID working with their amazing network of local contacts who scrounged up trucks, drivers, and fuel; organized the convoy and sent it off to deliver critical supplies. A UN "air-freight handling centre" in Aceh? Bull! It's the Aussies and the Yanks who are running the air ops into Aceh. We have people working and sleeping on the tarmac in Aceh, surrounded by bugs, mud, stench and death, who every day bring in the US and Aussie C-130s and the US choppers; unload, load, send them off. We have no fancy aid workers' retreat -- notice the priorities of the UN? People are dying and what's the first thing the UN wants to do? Set up "a camp for relief workers" one that would be "fully self-contained, with kitchen, food, lodging, everything."

The UN is a sham.
The Belmont Club also goes to great lengths to highlight UN bungling, institutional paralysis, and mishandling of their own personal attempts at delivering aid to tsunami victims. I especially liked this bit of analysis:
Every organization responds according to its repertoire and a UN captured by 'advocacy groups', riddled with ethnic politics, hamstrung by corruption and managed by individuals derived from academia and NGOs is no different. The problem is not that such people exist -- they are tolerable in some roles -- but that they have been put in charge of serious business.
Wretchard then goes on to link the same Diplomadic post I cited above.

Finally, in case this post wasn't long enough already, I'd like to highlight a recent editorial by Jonah Goldberg. In it he highlights the Catch-22 trap the internationalist crowd uses to continue America's self-destructive acquiescence to United Nations emotional black mail.
The United States supplies more than one-fifth of the United Nations' total budget (and 57 percent, 33 percent and 27 percent of the budgets for the World Food Program, the Refugee Agency, and Department of Peacekeeping Operations, respectively). We've been the United Nations' biggest donor every year since 1945. Taxpayers reluctantly agree to such largesse because we're told of the good works the United Nations does. And yet, whenever there's a catastrophe, Uncle Sam is asked to dig deep into his pocket for more money.

[...] Nobody objects when the United Nations helps victims of natural disasters, so U.N. defenders always use disaster relief and peacekeeping as their chief tool for fundraising. The problem is that the United Nations is not an impartial philanthropic organization. It is a political institution where a broad coalition of nations hope to curtail the power and influence of the United States. France uses the organization to leverage its relatively meager power by rallying African and Arab nations against us. Kofi Annan uses his megaphone to decry the moral and legal legitimacy of American foreign policy. Its Human Rights Committee is festooned with torture states, but it seems capable of issuing only condemnations inconvenient to the United States. And we foot the bill.

This is the Catch-22 of the United Nations. Politically, it's often reprehensible and inimical to American interests. But we're never asked to pay for that stuff. This comes out of the general budget. It's only when human beings are suffering in vast numbers that we're shamed for being "stingy" — because the United Nations understands how to exploit America's decency. If only we could be shaken down for more money to pay the light bill in the General Assembly when they play whack-a-mole with the United States.
There are no good reasons--no one--why the United Nations should continue to exist. There are a whole host of good reasons why the United States should cease to be a member.

Well... was that post long enough for ya?

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